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Preview: Worcester v Harlequins

19th September 2013 11:19

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Jake Abbott Worcester AVP 2012

Jake Abbott: First start of the season for Worcester

Worcester flanker Jake Abbott will be handed his first start of the season in Friday's Premiership clash with Harlequins at Sixways.

Warriors' director of rugby Dean Ryan has made four changes to the side which suffered late defeat to London Irish last weekend.

Jeremy Becasseau, who was ruled out of last Saturday's game, returns at loosehead prop, while John Andress comes in at tighthead.

Dean Schofield is recalled at lock in place of Chris Jones after impressing from the bench last weekend.

Captain Jonathan Thomas will move to number eight while Sam Betty is switched to blindside flanker as Worcester search for their first win of the campaign.

"I don't think we're a million miles off getting a win and, at some stage, someone's going to get bumped and we're going to gain confidence," said Ryan.

"This is a new challenge for me and we have to keep trying to improve when we're up against good sides. We've got to try and be competitive and get good results.

"Friday nights are pretty special here. Harlequins are a brilliant side and I like what they do. I'm looking forward to them coming up against us.

"The fans understand the challenge we've got and I'm delighted they all come and support us - we're working really hard to try and repay it."

Meanwhile, Harlequins made three changes and one positional switch to the squad that played Northampton Saints last weekend.

Rob Buchanan and Will Collier are named, joining Joe Marler in the front row.

Nick Easter starts in the second-row with George Robson, while the back row of Tom Guest, Maurie Fa'asavalu and captain Chris Robshaw, complete the forward pack.

There are no changes to the Harlequins back-line.

Among the replacements, Kyle Sinckler will look to make his first senior appearance of the season.

Joining Charlie Matthews, Nick Kennedy, Sam Twomey, Ross Chisholm and Ollie Lindsay-Hague on the list of those who are unavailable for selection due to injury include Jordan Turner-Hall, Paul Doran Jones and Joe Gray.

Turner-Hall is seeing a specialist today regarding a hip injury. The centre may have surgery this weekend and a further update will be provided next week.

Doran Jones sustained a knock last Friday against Northampton which will keep him out this week, while Hooker Gray is expected to be out until the end of November with a knee injury also picked up last week.

Form: Worcester Warriors have lost their last seven Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters since beating London Wasps at Sixways, 29-23, on 1st March - they have not lost eight in a row in the competition since season 2007/08. Harlequins have slipped to defeat in two of their last three encounters, whilst their most recent victory on opposing soil was when they also visited Worcester in round 21 last season. The Warriors only victory over Harlequins in their last 14 clashes in all competitions since 2005 was 23- 22 at The Stoop in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November 2007.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Ravai Fatiaki, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Jonathan Thomas (c), 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 Mike Williams, 3 John Andress, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Jeremy Becasseau.
Replacements: 16 Nick Seymour, 17 Paul Andrew, 18 Euan Murray, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Semisi Taulava, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Jon Clarke.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Merrick, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Sam Smith.

Date: Friday, September 20
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Venue: Sixways
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Robin Goodliffe, Paul Dix
Television match official: Geoffrey Warren

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